13 March 1957: The Assault on the Presidential Palace / Somos+

Canter with arm raised: José Antonio Echevarria

We trust in the purity of our intention,
May God favor us,
To achieve the Empire of Justice in our country.
José Antonio Echeverría Bianchi

Somos+, Jose Presol, 13 March 2017 — Today, March 13, we celebrate a date that, fifty years ago, could have radically changed the history of Cuba. A date that could have been, but was not. And it was not because of betrayals that, even today, are not clearly defined

That day, according to the policy of the Revolutionary Directorate, was “to attack the head.” A very high “head”: Fulgencio Batista.

From the beginning of the idea, towards the end of 1955, the goal was unity of action between its time.

In 1956, the plan was picked up again and, recalling the pact between the Directorate and the M26J (26th of July Movement) so-called Mexican Letter, Faustina Perez who was heading the “26th” in Havana was contacted, and he refused to collaborate on orders of Fidel. The writer doesn’t know of any reference to the proposal being communicated to Frank Pais or to other members of the National Directorate, on some dates when Fidel was by no means the Maximum Leader. continue reading

Thus, everything was conceived, planned and executed by the joint forces of the Authentic Organization and the Revolutionary Directorate.

Nothing was left to chance. There were enough weapons. Surveillance equipment. Political and military leadership. The leaders were Menelao Mora (for the Authentics) and Jose Antonio Echeverría (for the Directorate). The military commander was Carlos Gutiérrez Menoyo, who had been an officer with the Free French Forces during World War II.

Those who did not participate in the action were intended to: (1) Start the guerrilla action in the Escambray Mountains, (2) Arm and reorganize the Revolutionary Directorate in Havana, (3) Send troops to Frank Pais to be used in the El Uvero combat and to initiate the 2nd Eastern Front.

The plan was complex and simple at the same time: A frontal attack by a group transported in a delivery truck and two cars, which would go up to Batista’s office and take him prisoner or execute him, and that would be supported by men distributed on nearby roofs, to prevent the arrival of reinforcements; others as support and in reserve along the Paseo del Prado; and a main reserve that would arrive from Guanabacoa.

Messages would be broadcast for the uprising of the militants and sympathizers of the FEU and the Authentic Party throughout Cuba. In Havana they had to concentrate on the School of Architecture, where the group that had previously occupied Rádio Reloj would be organized, armed and instructed to occupy their objectives. As for the Army, the officers of higher rank next to the Authentics would take control of the garrisons.

Menelao Mora would assume the provisional presidency, until the arrival of the previous President-elect, Carlos Prío Socarrás, and then the process of elections interrupted by Batista with his coup d’etat would begin.

But, if everything was so measured and calculated, what was it that failed? Well two things:

  1. Batista fled from the Presidential Palace at the moment of the attack through a door the assailants didn’t know about.
  2. Someone sabotaged the action. I base  this on two things.

A. Everything (weapons, communications and vehicles) was checked several times and was in order. On leaving the Presidential Palace a tires of the delivery truck were low in air, affecting the suspension. The driver, Amado Silveriño, insisted on  continuing, promising to get there. Did someone let the air out?  It is not known.

B. The reserves did not receive the order to mobilize. Who was in charge of sending it? Someone who still walks around Havana: Fauré Chomón. The men who had to occupy the access points and those concentrated in Guanabacoa never moved of their collection point.

The result was, apart from the failure of action, the almost total dismissal of the only two organizations that could have cast shadows Fidel Castro’s aspirations: the Authentic Party and the Revolutionary Directorate.

Fidel can be considered the only winner of the failed attack.

Translated by Jim

Numbers, Reason and Principles / Somos+

Somos+, Eliecer Avila, 8 March 2017 — Daily, as part of my functions as leader of Somos+ (We Are More), I meet people who are interested in knowing the details of the organization. In theory, these people would become members of Somos+ if there is a sufficient match between their ideas and the ones we promulgate.

It turns out that often, I prepare to explain our proposals, program, explain the logical arguments about the need for changes, etc… but the first question that I ask is, “Come here… and how many are you?”

It never ceases to amaze me, the extreme importance that many people give to the number of people who adopt an attitude that they then adopt as their own. I believe their it would be much more worthwhile to concern ourselves with the number when we acquire some product for our use or contract for some service between the number of people previously satisfied by the same offer could be an indicator of its quality. continue reading

Instead, when it’s about values, principles, ideologies, justice and political positions, I don’t believe that the priority should be the number of people who adopt this or that position.

History abounds with examples in which great multitudes committed the most terrible and horrible crimes. Were they right? No, but they were many, many more joined them and the wave became so immense and unstoppable that opposing it would seem an act of uselessness, masochism or stupidity.

This overwhelming game between majorities and minorities is preferred by revolutions, because they establish in advance what is the “good side” and the “bad side” where people can position themselves, and depending on that decision their lives will be respected or tainted.

For me, democracy will never be described by the reductionist argument of “the dictatorship of the majorities,” because this primitive mentality is the one that always existed and does not necessarily contemplate a civilized advance that guarantees the peace and the participation of the whole society in decision-making. Instead, it will be the “opportunity for minorities” to exist in dignity and to be represented that would distinguish a democracy.

We should not be afraid to be alone or accompanied by few in the place that we consider right. If we think that striking a woman is wrong, we should not hit her to be in tune with the millions of men who do. Or if we believe that animals should be protected, or that corruption affects us all, it is legitimate to say it even though there are probably no de facto crowds chanting in our favor.

It is thanks to the rebels of the past, those who did not care about the number of their followers, that today we have, around the world, less violence, machismo, corruption and oppression than in previous centuries.

A political position is above all a right, but it is also a duty, which should never be exercised by imitation, enthusiasm, or pressure of any kind. It must be an act of responsibility based on abundant or full information, the product of a deep and measured analysis, strictly attached to what we are and what we believe to be just for us, our families, our nation and for all humanity.

Only in this way will we feel full, happy and secure in expressing our opinions or taking action both individually and in groups, voluntarily or remunerated, supported or rejected, blessed or repressed. Learning to think for oneself is to be free.

Numbers, reason and principles always have been and will be three different subjects.

Who Does Jose Marti Belong To? / Somos+

Somos+, 28 January 2017 — Very early today, January 28th [José Martí’s birthday], State Security agents were at Eliecer Avila’s house to warn him about the impossibility of his “doing anything” today.

Later they returned and still have a guard posted out front.

We know of several colleagues who are in the same situation or, such as Manuel Cuesta Morua, who have been arrested.

Apparently José Martí is the “private property” of the Cuban Communist Party.

As if anyone could prevent us from drinking of his thought!

Somos+ National Council

Granada, 1983, the Hidden Cuban Martyrology / Somos+, Pedro Acosta

US soldiers taking Cubans to a prison camp

Somos+, Pedro Acosta, 19 January 2017 — Thirty-three years later, I talked to more than 60 people under age 40 and with more than a 9th grade education; none of them knew exactly what I was talking about.

I asked them: Do you know what happened on the island of Granada in 1983? Most of them looked at me like I was asking them to solve a riddle. Some, the oldest, without being sure what I was talking about, said they thought there had been a military intervention there. Only one explained it to me, with middling clarity, because he had heard about it from his family. continue reading

A little history lesson, well hidden! In October of 1983, the Chief of the Armed Forces of that country, at the request of the party in power, “The New Jewel,” staged a coup d’etat and assassinated Prime Minister Maurice Bishop and his entire family. The United States threatened, and days later invaded the island.

A group of Cuban construction workers were there building an airport along with a small group of Colonels sent by Fidel in its presidential plane, AN-24 (el patico), had to confront the elite troops of the US 82nd Airborne Division.  You, who went to build, without the slightest right, without the simplest analysis and for the absurd chimera of someone looking for a military victory over his eternal enemies, is there weapons in hand and in mortal danger.

They did not have the right, nor the reason, nor the recurrent and often false, Internationalism!

I wonder, in a spectacular maneuver of my fantasy, and if, in the face of an uncontainable push of the builders, the elite American troops would have withdrawn: Who were we going to hand over power to? How long would we have remained in that territory? What role would we play there in the meantime?

We, like the ancestral custom of the regime, learned what happened through foreign radio stations and, first of all, those of the “enemy.” Despite there having been Cuban builders there, and Maurice Bishop was a great friend of Fidel, it was not until three days did we offficially here what happened there, when the entire Cuban people had a different version of the events.

Maurice Bishop and Fidel Castro

The officers were meant to block the US troops from taking control of the airport under construction, with the help of the builders. But the undesirable things happened. When confronted with the American troops, the immense majority of those who fought back were the construction workers, while the military experts and “warriors” sent by the Commander, Fidel Castro, including the chief of the troops, turned tail and left the field to the civilians. Those Colonels, some of whom were stations at the USSR embassy on this island, and others, wandering the mountains and the city, were detained by US forces.

The Cuban military were cowards for not confronting the big boss and telling him that they weren’t willing to commit suicide as they were being asked to do, and much less demand that others do it. And they were traitors for allowing those inexpert builders to do it. They should never have asked someone to fight. This was not their battle, and what’s more, incredibly unequal. They were asked to immolate themselves, and in whose name? By whom and for what?

While our soldiers were fleeing the news was alienating. The disgrace that was happening was also oversized, huge and fallacious. The last thing they put in the mouth of a brilliant figure on Cuban radio and television was that Cubans, defending their last redoubt, had offered their lives, embracing the Cuban flag.

What really happened in Granada is know only to the Cubans who returned with their lives from there, and they are the only ones who know the US military committed with the Cuban officials. Speaking correctly, they are not the only ones who know what happened, the international press played up the Cuban disgrace.

Because in Cuba it is taboo to talk about Granada, it has not been possible to get figures or data of any kind, I have only written what I remember. I don’t want to resort to foreign data.

There is no mention of Granada because, more than what is said, it was the greatest blunder, among all the orders, of the now deceased comrade Fidel, then Commander-in-Chief.

Also, the position and honor of a man, the head of the Cuban “troops,” has come to be talked of and he is compared with the Bronze Titan: “Emulator of Maceo.” What a crime and how embarrassing!

In Granada, Fidel suffered his hardest, saddest and most sobering defeat. But those who really suffered and felt it were the people of Cuba, and particularly the families of those who uselessly gave their lives and shed their blood in the land of others.

When will anyone ask forgiveness, publicly, to the mothers, wives and children of the martyrs of Granada? When will the people of Cuba get an explanation for such decisions. For the martyrs of Granada, there has been no minute of silence, only suspicion and slyness, that has lasted for more than thirty years.

And Now What? / Somos+, Jose Presol

Somos+, Jose Presol, 18 January 2017 — We expected it for a long time and it happened, but when we weren’t in the line for the ration book. I am referring to the end of the “wet foot, dry foot” policy. We all knew that it would end, but what we least imagined was that it would be now and done by the current president, Barack Obama.

It had to be sooner or later. The American people are leaning toward a policy of protectionism and focusing on their own problems and stumbles, and there are many Cubans in exile who affirm, “I am not politically persecuted, I came to resolve my economic problems.”

At the same time, there are constant complaints that old and current repressors and collaborators with the Cuban political regime are also in the United States, and whether or not they are still collaborating with the tyranny is not clear. This had to come. continue reading

Obama, who not so long ago seemed wonderful to so many people, now has thousands of defects. No friends, his message was clear, “Cuba’s problems must be solved by Cubans.” One more thing we have heard and interpreted according to our own convenience.

That was a way of saying, among other things: Gentlemen, the American taxpayers have no obligation to indefinitely finance the immigration of citizens of other nationalities, especially when we are not sure of their ideology and when these funds are needed, for example, to improve the conditions of our own veterans.

Few governments in the world are not aware that these resources are not unlimited and that this problem is not solved by “minting money.”

The fault belongs to us, Cubans. We all know, we are not fools, that the problem is not that there is no food, the problem is those who have made it so that there is no food. We have found it more convenient to confuse the symptoms with the disease. We have found it more convenient to deny reality. We have found it more convenient to say, with clenched teeth “over there,” that it is an economic problem.

But yes, it is an economic problem, but please, haven’t we been under a constant bombardment of Marxist doctrine for 58 years? Have we not listened to a single word? Hey guys, they say it themselves, “The economic problems are political problems.”

I am not a fortune-teller and I don’t know what the evolution of the problem in Cuba will be, but I am sure that there have already been two things: 1) a bucket of cold water for those who hoped to “escape” the situation, and 2) the disappearance of the escape valve from the current situation in Cuba, which does not please the regime, despite their saying otherwise.

As I said, I do not know how the subject will evolve, but I have hope that it will end up radicalizing the postures inside Cuba and clarifying them outside Cuba, and vice versa.

I hope that we Cubans, once and for all, will face our problem, trying to provoke quantitative changes (so they will understand me, I use Marxist terms) that, in accumulation, end up producing qualitative changes.

And those quantitative and qualitative changes begin with ourselves.

First, we have to think about who our real rival is and face it, without palliatives; finding all the cracks in the system and enlarging them, analyzing their contradictions and denouncing them.

Second, recognize that the problem of Cuba belongs to Cubans, all of us without exception, and that Cubans must solve it, and forget about remedies, collective or individual, that come from outside.

Third, we need to focus on programs and lines of action to conquer our rival; focus on weakening everything that benefits it; focus on highlighting the weaknesses and errors of the system.

Fourth, these programs and lines of action should focus on Cuba’s real needs. We must not return to situations that we often yearn for and fail to recognize that they were the reasons for what we have now. We must build a New Republic, with the ideals of freedom and democracy from our early founders.

Fifth, around these programs and lines of action, we have to create the necessary unity (and, why not, organization) to gather forces instead of dispersing them, not looking for some leader to solve it for us.

Sixth, these programs and lines of action must be peaceful, we are children of a nation that has not known peace and tranquility since October 10, 1868, it is high time that we also address that.

Seventh: Cubans, think. You are the children of the people who fought for 30 years for independence, who suffered 4 years of American occupation, people who have had 57 years of a false republic and more occupations (material or mediated) and another 58 of tyranny. We have fallen many times and many times we have risen, even mistaking and getting it wrong again. So get up at once and contribute with your effort and imagination. This is your opportunity. Do not let it pass.

Translated by Jim

We Have to Take Responsibility for Our Own Land… / Somos+

Somos+, 14 January 2017 — Forty-eight hours have passed since we have officially declared ourselves, as a movement, with regards to the elimination of the “Wet foot/Dry foot” policy. There is a reason for that: We do not want to say anything without, at least, consulting the National Council and the greatest possible number of active members. Also, it was prudent to read and listen to all the explanations to correctly understand the scope of the measure.

Today we affirm that, in the long term, we consider it positive for Cuba as a country, a nation and a homeland. continue reading

We are deeply pained by the situation of thousands of Cubans stranded in distant countries, almost all of us have some family member in this situation. We know their expenses have been huge as have their sacrifices. But logic tells us that the departure of the all the people of Cuba will not fix the problems that face us.

On the contrary, to the extent that the already limited number of energetic and dissatisfied youth leave the island, the ability to rebuild our society is ever more distant, starting from the profound changes which can only be driven by millions of people determined to take control of the reins of the nation.

Many argue for the exceptionality of the political situation of Cubans, we among them. But it was precisely the thousands of Cubans traveling through Latin American who are leaving us alone in this thesis, because when we put our cameras in front of people they always say the same thing: “We are not leaving because of political problems, but to improve our economic situation.”

Some even throw in slogans in support of Fidel and Raul, or proudly show off tattoos with images of the creators of the system in which they cannot support themselves. It was these images that convinced a great share of international public opinion that there is no difference between Cuban emigrants and those from the rest of the continent. So?

In our opinion, if this attitude had been put into practice 20 years ago, or never existed (as it doesn’t exist in many former-Soviet controlled countries), another rooster (or hen) would be singing today in Cuba — that is, everything would be different.

If doctors are treated like modern slaves, they should unionize with or without permission, and no longer accept this business model that is a thorn in their sides. Those serving on “missions” abroad can take advantage of the ability to use social media and their access to the news media to unite in a just fight for their rights.

If young people don’t have opportunities, they also should join together in their institutes and universities and peacefully express their demands. Do no accept that some gentlemen who have lost all contact with reality have condemned them to material and spiritual poverty for the rest of their lives.

If parents do not see a future for their children, demand changes in the educational system so that the children will be prepared to be 21st century citizens. Do not let the authorities use their children as instruments of political propaganda and do not teach them, at home, to remain silent and bear up “until we can leave.”

We will probably sound harsh, weird, evil, like oddballs, in the midst of this whole wave of more or less justifiable sentimentality, but with full honesty, we are tired of this sick and victimizing mentality that describes us as the mental and political underdogs of the world, which we are not.

We are comforted by the idea of expressing this opinion from here. We hope that with time this measure will contribute to more of our compatriots taking responsibility for our land, wherever they are. Our entire family cannot move to the neighbor’s house, much less because we don’t like “our own parents”? Because those gentlemen are not our parents, not even our friends or allies… they are common people like you and me and can and should be exchanged, dismissed, replaced, expelled from their jobs if this house doesn’t work. And… it doesn’t work.

Let us stay and fix our own house. Together, we will be more.

Somos+ (We Are More) National Council

Havana

14 January 2016 

Repression Spiking in Cuba / Somos+, Eliecer Avila

Somos+, Eliecer Avila, 123 January 2017 — Two days ago, our eastern coordinator in Las Tunas, Wiliam Espinosa, spent 24 hours in jail when he tried to leave to attend our meeting in Havana.

Last night there was a great witch hunt and persecution all over the Havana neighborhood of Vededo to prevent us from attending a meeting of Otro18. They even forced a private restaurant to close.

Today dawns with the news that they have seized the home of Karina Galvez, Dagoberto Valdes’s right-hand person on the Convivencia (Coexistence) team. She was arrested and no one is allowed to see her.

Right now, the official who calls himself “Leandro,” along with a police car, has closed my block at the corner. It is very likely there will be arrests.

I just talked to professor Wilfredo Vallin who has been blocked from leaving home and they told him he could not come to my house. Because I am a “danger” to State Security. My God…

They seized and are still holding Alexey Gamez’s laptop, cellphone and hard drives, as a sequel to the latest offensive against our academy, where we seek to educate citizens.

And added to this is that El Sexto (the graffiti artist Danilo Maldonado) has been under arrest since November, without trial, and we have a panorama of extreme despair on the part of a system that cannot find any way to emerge from its crisis and clings tooth and nail to violence as the only path to salvation.

What disaster it going to happen at the highest levels of the government, where they do not want anyone at the base to be able to move?

Revolutionary Christmas / Somos+, Javier Cabrera

Somos+, Javier Cabrera, 24 December 2016 — I was an atypical Cuban child because I always had Christmas. My mother, whom they tried to expel from her teaching job once because Christians didn’t have the morals to teach classes to the “New Man,” said that she wasn’t going to let a man tell her whether or not to celebrate Christmas or the Three Kings in her own home.

In those Decembers, she took out the little tree from her childhood, with what we called “the balls from before ’59,” and bought gifts with whatever she could. I remember perfectly that the gifts were increasingly fewer, and in the ’90s moved from the floor to the little table. Of course, the celebration was never interrupted, not even in 1994, a year to forget. continue reading

For me, the year started to come to an end when Christmas showed up in our house. And I suffered many conflicts in kindergarten and elementary school, because I couldn’t understand that I lived in a country that was so equal, and so different.

Today I look back and understand that the best Christmas gift I got was this: “No one has the right to tell you to celebrate or not to celebrate. Your freedom ends when you let one group of the ‘enlightened’ impose their celebrations, wakes, or whatever they want.”

Earlier this year, I landed a few hours apart in the same airport where the Chapecoense team’s plane crashed. I was going to work, and I was warned that there was a huge local party. I heard some fireworks set off in celebration, but not even 3% of what was normal. In general, without imposition, or fines, or prohibitions, I saw a people in pain come together to fill stadiums.

An image in complete contrast to the imposed mourning that same week in Cuba, mourning that they are now trying to extend indefinitely, annulling our freedom to celebrate, or choosing not to participate without facing the loss of one’s job, which in any event only pays a pauper’s wages.

Christmas is many things, but above all it is home, family and celebration. Today it is no longer completely banned, and even so it is scandalous that no one has asked an entire people for forgiveness for forcing them to cancel it.

Today, Christmas day, I remember my mother a lot and thank her for not allowing them to tell her what to do. I also remember friends who didn’t dare, and who didn’t even hear about Christmas until they were older.

Today is a good day to tell the mother of all of us, Cuba, that we celebrate and we celebrate with her. That she gives us once again the ability not to listen to those who would bother a united family that celebrates. To them, as a nation, she also gives the freedom to celebrate their frustrations where no one interferes with them.

It Is Not Because Fidel Says It, It Is Because I Believe It / Somos+, Arlenys Miranda Mesa

Cuban President Raul Castro speaking in Santiago de Cuba, Cuba, December 3, 2016. © Carlos Barria / Reuters

Somos+, Arlenys Miranda Mesa, 21 December 2016 — December 3rd was the ceremony in Santiago de Cuba after the death of Fidel Castro and the procession of his ashes across the entire Cuban archipelago. I sat down to observe the ceremony, although I knew it would be repeated many times, but I preferred to be an eyewitness rather than “hear about it” in the hallway. At the end, Fidel Castro stood up. His speech is important, of course, be is the president of the nation. And not because the majority elected him, in fact, I don’t know who elected him, no one ever explained it, but he is.

His speech was more of the same, and the figure of his brother was exalted one more time, to the height of a god. May God have mercy on Cuba, for He sees the wickedness of the idolatry of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate Him. continue reading

He spoke about how, in circumstances of extreme difficulty, Fidel always said, “Yes we can.” Yes, we can attack the Moncada Barracks, yes we can make a revolution i Cuba, arrive on the coast in a yacht, resist the enemy and even do away with him in less than 72 hours; resist hunger, rain, cold. Yes we can organize an army in the Sierra Maestra and open a new guerrilla front, withstand the blackouts, the limitations of public transport, preserve health and education in the midst of crises and blockades, in short, so many things. A visionary man.

Today he no longer exists. It is the end of one era, giving way to another, where we see our hopes reborn. It is for this that I feel very excited and inspired because like him I believe that “Yes we can.” But I go in the opposite directions from everything he believed and that he could do and not do in Cuba. He imposed his opinions, his crazy ideas. I am even-tempered, sensible, logical. I am a mother, woman and Cuban. I think about my children, my family, my country.

I believe that Yes we can have internet in Cuba, cheap and uncensored. Why in internet a human right in other countries but not for us, is it perhaps that we are not human. What are they hiding from us that is on the internet?

Yes we can have free elections, where every Cuba can, with dignity and conscientiously choose their president. Yes we can dream of a younger leadership in tune with our reality, that although it did not participate in the in attack on the Moncada Barracks in the 1950s, arrive later that decade on the yacht Granma, or fight in the mountains, is not therefore less qualified to take on the challenge.

Yes we can aspire to have different political parties for one to belong to and identify with. Yes it is possible for an army and a police officer without surnames, that responds not to the interests of the elite but rather of the people.

Yes we can aspire to a government that pays attention, and creates a space for dialog with those who think differently. Yes we can aspire to an objective and committed journalism, but not with an ideology, but simply with the truth, so that the press doesn’t silence those who shout in the street.

Yes we can respect those who think differently and not call them worms or scum, those who want to “change everything that needs to be changed,” as Raul Castro himself is so fond of repeating.

If, for capturing these ideas in this article, they disappear me, then what is said about Camilo Cienfuegos is true. If after doing so, I die in a car accident, then what is said about Oswaldo Payá is true. If they put me in a car and drive me far away and release me in some other province without any money, or bruised in a gutter or threatened, then I am fighting for the right side, because Fidel fought against these things in the Batista dictatorship. The national president of the Federation of University Students said in her speech that Fidel was a friend who defended just causes.

I am defending a just cause, freedom and democracy, therefore I am not on the opposite site, I am not a terrorist nor a counterrevolutionary. I am a 41-year-old woman, married for 18 years, the mother of three children, Christian since I was 19, pastor of a church for 9 years. A licensed English Teacher and licensed in Sacred Theology.

I am a woman who years for changes and who has not lost faith or hope, because I believe “That Yes We Can.”

Legacy and End Point / Somos+, Pedro Acosta

Somos+, Pedro Acosta, 6 December 2016 — After your departure the Cuban people should be eternally grateful for:

The fall of the dictatorship. Fulfilling your political promises, especially the respect for the 1940 Constitution, the quick holding of free elections, and not placing yourself permanently in power.

For making us economically independent (??!), developing our industry and raising it to levels never before seen, diversifying production and eliminating our dependence on our dangerous neighbor to the north and transferring it first to the Socialist camp and then to the first ones who came along. Maintaining the boom and constantly growing our powerful sugar industry. continue reading

Also for giving us a dignified wage that allows us to live at ease. Because our children can savor a tasty breakfast, lunch and dinner. And the Cuban family has the possibility to enjoy some deserved vacations in the respectable hotels that adorn the national territory, including the keys.

For granting us a Social Security System that covers the basic needs of the human being and allows us to retire without having to depend on our families to maintain us or having to take up any task we can find to be able to subsist and not live by begging.

For giving us decent housing that resists hurricanes, with only 52% of the housing stock in the country in fair or poor condition. Because the stores have fair prices according to the generous income the government pays us. In addition to having at our disposal all kinds of new generation appliances.

Giving us free choice and having telephones, TV channels and internet and so having an excellent level of information and not being subject to the opinions of any individual or of the communication media.

For giving us free (??!) education and health care. And in the schools and hospitals having facilities and technologies sustained by country’s powerful economic development.

For giving us the chance to feel proud of the behavior and formal education of the population, especially the youth. For eradicating: gambling, prostitution, racism, marginalization, corruption and other evils of the past.

Establishing diligent public services and eliminating absurd bureaucratic and cumbersome procedures, with officials who feel proud of serving the people, for fulfilling an honorable duty.

Infinite thanks:

For not interfering in warring conflicts of any kind. And not squandering the country’s abundant resources. For respecting our free will and possessing an unsurpassed freedom of expression, given through the media.

For never having lied to the people and for expressing from the first day your intentions to implant socialism in Cuba.

Because with your example we learned to respect and never denigrate our compatriots with political opinions different from those proclaimed by the Communist Party, and the Organs of State Security never having repressed in any way the regime’s opponents, much less tried and condemned them under false accusations. With your actions jealously respecting the Constitution of the Republic.

For maintaining a clear separation between legislative, executive and judicial powers.

For giving us the best Electoral System in the world where others think and argue for us and for having the ability to know, through their biographies, the Deputies of the National Assembly, people who don’t need to be from the area where they are elected from and whom we have never seen in real life. For giving us the ability to elect the president of the county.

Also, for giving us, at 50 years, hopes that in the next 50 years it will be possible to find the right road.

For this and a thousand other things:

THANKS!

From Girl to Woman in Cuba / Somos+, Marcia Castillo Alvarez

Somos+, Marcia Castillo Alvarez, 7 December 2016 — Today I woke up with many thoughts and memories I’m trying to sort out, and it seems incredible to me how time passes and we with it. I remember when I was a girl, how I dreamt of and visioned the future, always wanting to see farther. I was raised in a humble home of peasant origin, with great thanks to Fidel and the Revolution, where I only heard about achievements and good things, but no one talked about mistakes.

As a girl I didn’t question myself, because in my fantasy, for me the whole world was good. At home, on the block, at school, i was raised as a disciple of José Martí, a patriot and a revolutionary. When I saw the comandante on the TV screen I saw him as an infallible giant. Along with my classmates I wonder what day the leader would day and how people would react and what would happen. continue reading

Today everything is different, I’m no longer a child, and unlike those times I have a lot of questions, and my way of thinking has changed. I wonder how a man who has imposed his way of thinking, his ideology, his thinking, however, he transcends history today. How millions of Cubans recognize his achievements, while in other areas our country is paralyzed in time. It is impossible not to talk about these things that touch us very closely every day.

How one man who fought for a single social class, “the humble,” had at his disposal the car he wanted, while the people barely had a bicycle. How he partook of delicious banquets, when the working class didn’t earn enough money to eat, not to mention the keys to hunting lodges, luxury hotels and places he visited, when a Cuban could go only if he or she received help from abroad or if their family came, and on occasions hundreds have died without being able even to visit the capital city of all Cubans. If I continued to cite examples it would take me a long time to finish, and the truth is, they want us to see something that in reality doesn’t exist.

Today I ask myself, is if worth investing our time and paying tribute to a person who manipulated, cheated, abused, lied, just to remain in power? Can we teach today’s children to follow the example of a person whose deeds do not correlate with his principles, words and ideas?

I invite you all to reflect and decide what to follow, what to teach and what to remember. But beyond the differences, all of us together can bet on a better country, where man is truly free, to choose and to act, and that the people who lead us, we can really know them and choose them.

I’m Telling You I’m Here / Somos+, Arlenys Miranda Mesa

Somos+, Arlenys Miranda Mesa, 4 December 2016 — Nine days of national mourning have been decreed for the death of Fidel Castro. Fidel has died, but it seems like he is still alive. However, we who are alive, it seems we are dead.

There are many ways one can be dead and not only physically or spiritually because of sin, as God says in his Word. From the moment we whisper to express what we believe or because we don’t want any trouble, denouncing the injustices that are committed daily in Cuba, we can talk about the death of the conscience.

Today I took my younger son to Gerardo Domenech School, located in Jovellanos, Matanzas, Cuba, and I found that they didn’t ring the bell, because they haven’t had any electricity since yesterday. I approached one of the teachers and asked how they could hold class in classrooms without light. Maybe they don’t know that the low light is affecting our children’s vision and this will affect them for life because they are in the midst of their development. continue reading

I asked, then, “Why hasn’t the fault been fixed?” She explained to to me that it’s not a fault, but that the school has a determined amount of kilowatts assigned to it for each month and when that is used up then there isn’t any more. She told me about the efforts to save electricity, and that includes they themselves turning off the lights, but it still isn’t enough and doesn’t last and that from now until December 5th there won’t be any more kilowatts assigned.

Other mothers present in the group complained and then I asked them, “Will we continue bringing our children to school so they can be educated and authorized to slowly lose their vision?” They looked at me as if I were an extraterrestrial, and seeing the boldness with which I spoke and with that expression that shows the death of the consciousness, they said: “Nothing can be done, you’re going to make problems for yourself.”

Then the teacher approached me to ask why I hadn’t entered my son in the Mathematics Olympiad. “Teacher,” I said, making use of the Holy Spirit for self-control, “I don’t know how to do these problems,” and she said, “why don’t you ask the other children?”

I answered, “Because the Olympiads, so far, have been optional, not obligatory, because I don’t have any interest in solving them, because I won’t get anything from it, nor will anyone else, because I have more complicated problems than the Olympiads to solve every day and they are these:

“What am I going to feed my children, how can I stretch my income, when I have to get a transurethral resection (RTU) for my dad who has spent two months with probes but his urethra is obstructed, and we already went to the National Hospital, the Naval Hospital, Oncology and they couldn’t do it, because the equipment for the procedure is broken.

“From Oncology they sent to the Almejeiras Brothers Hospital, and without going into the details, they saw us, and for more than 15 days we have been waiting for the miraculous phone call that says: Come to the hospital.

“How can I guarantee that my children can study in a university and that they can become what they want, and not have some career determined by someone else? How do I resolve the problems in some of the stores where they change the prices of the products, or they don’t label them and you have to ask the clerks one by one, as happened to me in the Varadero Airport?

“How do I know what I’m buying in the state stores are industry made products and not handmade as has happened?

“How can you tell our children during school hours to have us come to sign a pledge* to give continuity to the Revolutionary Concept expressed by Fidel, involving my children in political matters without consulting their parents?”

“Sure, they know it, but we don’t, they want us to keep Fidel alive and they are trying to keep us dead, with a conscience callous to the reality of our country. And I am saying this to you, that I am here.”

Note: In the Naval Hospital they only see military and their families. My father is seen as a combatant who already lost his hands in a detonator explosion, during maneuvers by the Territorial Troop Militias (MTT), preparing for ’the war in a time of peace’ in the year 1996.

*Translator’s note: Since Fidel Castro’s death, the government has set up gathering points all over the country where Cubans are asked to come and sign a loyalty oath to his Revolution. 

Joanna Columbie Released With Warning / Somos+

Somos+, 3 December 2016 — Joanna Columbié has been released but with the “warning” that she cannot leave Havana until after December 10th*. Once again, the nervousness of the Cuban government in the face of people who know what they want for their country is on display.

*Translator’s note: December 10th is International Human Rights Day, which may or may not have played into the government’s choice of that date.

Fidel Has Died but Castroism Has Not / Somos+, Joanna Columbié

Somos+, Joanna Columbié, 2 December 2016 — It has been announced on any number of occasions — much anticipated by many and feared by others — but the death of Fidel Castro is now a reality. Nothing can delay it and nothing can stop it.

However, there is something that lives on after his death which is a greater evil, the one that should have died: Castroism. It is that compulsive obsession that demands homage and submission to the ideas of a human being named Castro, whose legacy to this nation cannot easily be reconciled by history.

Fidel left behind separated families, weeping mothers, children lost in the Florida Straits, young migrants traversing mountains and towns throughout the world, political and ideological division, persecution, prisons, death, hypocrisy and a country that is plunging ever deeper into material and spiritual poverty. continue reading

Fidel intoxicated those who were hoping for a better future for Latin America, infecting them with “his communism.” He tried to pass on to posterity his totalitarian legacy of always trying to hold onto power. His struggle against “Yankee imperialism” left an open wound which even now remains impossible to close. He spoke of people’s rights when his own people have long lived without those rights.

All this is indisputable, but what then do you do with this experience? Where to look? Backwards or forward? Will we simply stand still, frozen in time in the present?

Fidel Castro has died, but Castroism has not. The Cuban people cannot live forever subject to his ideas, to his doctrines, to his opinions, to his image and his symbols. They have divided our nation for too long. We are living in the midst of a societal breakdown but he is no longer here to define the goals or to point way to reaching them.

As Fr. José Conrado said some time ago, “our people are languishing in the middle of a desert whose scarcest water is that of hope. We are at the edge of a spiritual precipice much more serious and profound than the material deprivations that overwhelm and oppress us daily. The vision of society that has been promoted as the panacea to all our problems, as a solution to our vices and the fulfillment of our dreams, has led us to this dead end, to this sad condition.”

This is a decisive juncture; let us not allow the opportunity to pass by. It is the moment for reconciliation and hope. Enough with hate and separation, enough with forgetting our identity as a nation, as Cubans, as brothers. We must reconcile our differences, listen to proposals and discover the value of dialogue as a source of those proposals. This is necessary if a new dawn is to rise among us. We must be ready to find solutions for the future of a homeland that belongs to us and that demands it of us.

If you would like to comment on this post from within Cuba [ed. note: and do not have sufficient internet access to enables you to do so in real time, online], write to comunicaciones@somosmascuba.com. Your comments will be included in the blog.